Watershed

The Chickahominy River flows into the James, then on to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chickahominy River flows into the James, then on to the Chesapeake Bay.

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Abundant rainfall continues to fall in our area.  Whether coming as snow, sleet, rain or freezing rain; moisture has filled our sky several times a week for the last few months.

We appreciate the rain.  Our soil is so well hydrated it squishes.

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Water from this ditch runs into a tiny creek which feeds College Creek, less than 200 ft. away.

Water from this ditch runs into a tiny creek which feeds College Creek, less than 200 ft. away.

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Our neighborhood ditches and low spots fill with precious water, and excess water is channeled down our steep sloping yards into the many creeks which run through our ravines.

Living near the coast, on a peninsula between mighty rivers, with ponds, marshes and and creeks dotting the landscape, we see and cross bodies of water each day.

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Channeling water run off in our neighborhood into College Creek

Channeling water run off of streets  in our neighborhood into College Creek

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Our close relationship with our area’s waterways remains immediate and tangible.

There is a clear route from our garden directly to the James River, then the Chesapeake Bay, and within only about 60 miles directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

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This pond behind our home flows directly into College Creek

This pond behind our home flows directly into College Creek

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And every inch of this watery pathway hosts abundant life.  Our thick forests and dense marshlands support thousands of species of birds, fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, and small mammals.  We see and hear many of these beautiful creatures each day, and we appreciate their presence. (Except for the dratted voles, ticks, and mosquitoes, that is.)

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College Creek flows under this Colonial Parkway bridge and into the James River

College Creek flows under this Colonial Parkway bridge and into the James River

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has raised awareness of the Bay’s fragile ecosystem since the late 1960’s.  I grew up admiring this group and its efforts to improve water and air quality in our state, to raise awareness of erosion, and to preserve the unique beauty of our coastal region.

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Erosion continues to be a problem along our waterways.  Here, ducks enjoy feeding in the shallows of College Creek near where it empties into teh river.

Erosion continues to be a problem along our waterways. Here, ducks enjoy feeding in the shallows of College Creek near where it empties into the river.

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As much as the Bay’s health remains dependent on the decisions and actions of corporations, the U.S Navy, and all levels of government; there are still things individuals can do (and not do) to make our own small efforts to preserve the health and beauty of our waterways.

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The Beautiful James River with water flowing into it from College Creek to the left.

The beautiful James River with water flowing into it from College Creek to the left.

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We are often reminded that anything left on the ground will eventually find its way to the Bay, and then the ocean.  This includes not only litter and pet waste, but also lawn chemicals, garden fertilizers, oil or gas leaked from engines, and even eroding soil.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 025

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Much of the river banks in our immediate area are forested.  Forest lands and marshes do a great deal to filter water running off of the land before it reaches the larger waterways.  Even the hated phragmites, bane of boaters, serve an important role in filtering harmful substances out of water flowing through creeks and marshes on its way to the Bay and the Atlantic.

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Phragmites fill much of our marshy areas.

Phragmites fill much of our marshy areas.

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Every bit of vegetation helps absorb run-off and clean the air, filtering out harmful substances, including carbon, trapping them within the tissue of the plant.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 002

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation runs a number of excellent projects both to educate people at all levels about the Bay’s ecosystem, and to take direct action to restore watersheds and clean up solid pollution.  Please take a look at the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Foundations Clean Water Blueprint for more information.

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This ditch along Jamestown Road catches and absorbs run off before it can reach the James River.

This ditch along Jamestown Road catches and absorbs run off before it can reach the James River.

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Even with a nuclear power station as one of our ‘neighbors,’ across the river in Surry, there has been a minimum of impact from that industrial site on the overall health of this section of the James river.

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Surry nuclear power station as seen across the james River from the Colonial Parkway, ,near Jamestown Island.

Surry nuclear power station as seen across the James River from the Colonial Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

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We came home earlier today to find one of the ubiquitous “lawn care” companies spraying mystery liquids on a neighbor’s lawn.  I immediately tensed up and felt angry that the neighbor had actually hired someone to come and spray harmful chemicals so close to the pond behind our homes.  This same neighbor had shrubs and trees ripped out of her yard a few years back so this green lawn could be laid.  Now we have to listen to the crews come with their noisy equipment to care for it and treat it with chemicals on a regular basis.

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Our pond empties directly into this area of College Creek

Our pond empties directly into this area of College Creek

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With every rain, those chemicals wash off of her lawn and into the pond behind our properties, home to frogs, toads, turtles, and more; then on into College Creek.

Planting and preserving trees, shrubs, herbs, and vines helps hold the soil and slow run-off during rainstorms, thus preventing erosion.  Planting primarily native or naturalized species which don’t require herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers for their growth allows us to enjoy a beautiful landscape around our homes without releasing chemicals into the ecosystem.  Naturalized landscapes use far less energy than lawns and return far greater value to the ecosystem.

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Another neighbor whose garden borders our shared pond has filled his garden with native shrubs and trees.  This Mountain Laurel makes a spectacular display in his garden each May.

Another neighbor whose garden borders our shared pond has filled his garden with native shrubs and trees. This Mountain Laurel makes a spectacular display in his garden each May.

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Re-planting native and naturalized species also helps re-store the ecosystem for our wildlife.  As we provide food sources and nesting sites, we provide safe haven for the many creatures which make up the web of life in our region.  This is good stewardship of our ecosystem, and also saves us a great deal of time an money.  Wouldn’t you also prefer listening to birdsong than to the blowers, mowers, saws and grinders of a lawn crew?

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May 27. 2014 Herons 027

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Jane, a blogging friend at “Just Another Nature Enthusiast,” has created a new blogging meme called, “Unless… Earth Friendly Fridays.”  Somehow I missed her start up.  Jane has declared March the month for us to focus on water and waterways.  March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers,  and March 22 the UN’s World Water Day.

Jane posted the challenge, “Water- What’s Your Watershed?” on the last Friday of February, and I’m finally responding with this post today.  Better late than never, I believe!

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The Chickahominy River earlier this afterrnoon.

The Chickahominy River earlier this afterrnoon.

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Although Jane lives in the beautiful northwest of the United States, and we live here in coastal Virginia; we have a great deal in common.  Even living on opposite coasts, I feel as though we share a back yard.  Perhaps all of North America is in some way our back yard!  If we all treated it as such, I firmly believe that we could do a great deal to clean and preserve our environment in our generation.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 049

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Working together, helping others become more aware of how their actions affect the greater whole, we might be able to leave a cleaner, more beautiful planet for our granddaughters and grandsons.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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March 12, 2015 watershed 045

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Please join the Earth-friendly Friday Challenge.

UNLESS we care nothing is going to get better… it’s not

Our watershed

Our watershed

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

27 responses to “Watershed

  1. Anonymous

    A treat, a real treat.

  2. Super post, and fantastic photos for the article!

  3. Fantastic post, WG. As we continue the massive clean-up here at the ranch, I can’t help but think about all that has gone from here into the creek, the river, and out to the Bay.

    And I see your crocuses are blooming too! 🙂

    • Thank you, Robin 😉 Are you saying that nature helped with your spring garden clean up? Or are you commenting on what the last owners left behind 😉 Finally crocuses! Have you had massive rain showers today? It just poured here much of the afternoon- Best wishes, WG

      • I was thinking of the trash left behind by the previous owners. Nature hasn’t helped at all with the spring garden clean up. It’s more of a mess than it was in the fall (when I failed to clean up as well as I should have). That’s okay. If it ever dries out, I don’t think it will take too long to get things whipped into shape and ready for new plantings. And, boy, did it ever pour! We have a thick fog shrouding everything now. I hope it’s still foggy in the morning. I enjoy walks in the fog. 😀

        • Should be 😉 We have been listening to the fog horns on the Jamestown Ferry. Very moody this evening with the mist and sparkling raindrops- and brilliant sun just before sunset 😉 Hope you have a beautiful Sunday, WG

  4. As you wish, WG- ❤
    Here’s the link for this week’s UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday-

    http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/03/13/unless-earth-friendly-friday-water-taking-the-pulse-of-your-watershed-rivers-heartbeat/

    Now I have some photos to take in preparation for completing my own challenge!!! 😉

  5. Pingback: UNLESS… Earth-friendly Friday: Water-What’s your watershed? | Just Another Nature Enthusiast

  6. WG-
    Thank you for the complete and comprehensive walk through your watershed. I love having the ability to appreciate the complete system… to feel the water flow from homesite -> drainage gullies -> creek/pond -> rivers -> bay ->ocean.

    The connections some may take for granted, are not seen or appreciated by others. Posts like this can serve to help create natural science awareness. I think awareness is a foundational plank in building a bridge of knowledge and understanding.

    The reliance on these systems for life to thrive is demonstrated by all the beautiful photos and words you’ve selected to describe your watershed, WD. And… the reference to invasive species, sounds, and chemicals is important food for thought and action.

    I appreciate the time and care you put into this post- and am happy you’ve joined this challenge ❤
    Jane

  7. Lovely photographs as usual! You do such a great job taking beautiful pictures!! You have a lot of water in your area, and now I see you have spring flowers blooming already!! Enjoy your weekend!

  8. The more correct knowledge presented, the better educated we all are. I speak for the trees too.

  9. Great and timely post as everything melts and drains away into the watershed. Education is key to changing folks’ chemical habits.
    I loved seeing your open ground, I’m still dreaming of it! You’ve probably been puttering in your yard with all this warmer weather. Yesterday was divine. I snowshoed in what we call ‘mashed potato’ snow. It is very accurate a visual, rather sloppy! Tough going – I only wore a sweater and was definitely sweating! 😉 I am so ready for it to be gone – my knees don’t like this stuff!

    • ‘Mashed potato snow’ How vivid! Your poor knees! I suppose that is covering everything, Eliza??? We’ve seen the warmer temperatures up your way and wondered how your snow melt is coming. This is absolutely the slowest to melt snow either of us has ever seen. We marvel at how, in spite of nearly a week now of temps above freezing and several days of warm rain, we still see large unmelted hills of snow in our yard, in parking lots…. it as though it has its own re-frigerant agent mixed in to it to maintain its cold longevity! I can only imagine how much worse it is in area where many feet of it fell. Please be kind to your knees as you move around 😉 I’ve puttered about some, but am still patiently waiting out the season. I’ve been tricked by early spring a few times too many to believe the weather has settled yet. It is wonderful to watch the progress of buds and re-appearing iris leaves and to watch for the daffodils to bloom. Our first one opened Wednesday in a pot 😉 Best wishes and giant hugs! WG

      • We’ve had only 2 days above 40, the rest in the 30s, so melting is slow. About a foot has melted, 15″ to go! It’ll be a while yet. 😉

        • Well, it is still March…. i hope you will get to see your ground again soon 😉 The first of the plants I ordered is due to arrive tomorrow- a S. “Black Lace” elderberry 😉 ‘Tis (finally) the season 😉 Hope you have a great weekend. Do you celebrate “Pi Day”?

          • I had a Black Lace (3 originally) until it succumbed to borers. I have given up on that one, even though I think it is a beautiful plant. There you are planting while we have acres of snow, it seems unreal to me!
            Yes, Pi Day is tomorrow, 3.14 and apparently special for its numbers all lining up that won’t again for 100 years. Not being a math whiz, I probably won’t do much to celebrate it. 🙂

            • 3.1415 to be exact 😉 I just made a coconut pie- any excuse is a good one 😉 I’m sorry your S. Black Lace was lost to borers- and appreciate knowing that. I grew the native variety in my last garden with great success, even though it was in partial shade. It grows so quickly! I’m planning to pot this one up for its first year or two at the least. Will that protect it from borers, or are they laid by flying insects? I learned about Pi day from the math teacher on my last teaching team. She taught Algebra to two of our groups, and made a great celebration of it for everyone. We all joined in with hand crafted T shirts and special activities to celebrate. Will it warm up for you this weekend? I think we will have a warm but wet weekend here. Giant hugs, WG

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